The most recent Food and Drink Tourism Strategy was published by Fáilte Ireland in January 2018 which saw the development of initiatives such as the all-island ‘Taste the Island’ promotion in 2019. Implementation of the strategy was halted by the onset of Covid-19 and the Association has now called for a new strategy to be developed as a priority.
IWA Director William Lavelle commended the hard work of the tourism agencies north and south as they supported the tourism industry, including distillery visitor experiences, to survive and recover following the pandemic.
“Visitors to distillery visitor experiences fell by 87% in both 2020 and 2021 from a high of one million visitors in 2019,” he said, “2022 has seen a strong rebound in visitor numbers, supported by the IrishWhiskey360 campaign and our new Irish Whiskey Passport initiative, both developed by the Irish Whiskey Association.
“While this rebound is welcome, as we move on from recovery to growth, members of the Irish Whiskey Association are calling on the Government and agencies north and south to develop a new all-island Food and Drink Tourism Strategy as a priority for 2023. We know that more and more international tourists are coming to Ireland looking to experience premium offerings including discovering the best of Irish food and drink.”
A number of Irish whiskey distilleries recently hosted #IrishWhiskeyHarvest events aimed at showcasing Irish whiskey’s links with Irish farming and food as well as highlighting sustainability in both Irish tillage farming and Irish whiskey production.
The IWA’s Sustainability Roadmap found that €63 million was spent in local communities by visitors to distilleries in 2019 with Irish whiskey tourism making a substantial contribution to economic sustainability as well as showcasing the provenance and authenticity of Irish whiskey production.
Strategy needed to support sustainable tourism
According to the IWA a new Food and Drink Tourism Strategy would provide the focus and direction for development of what has the potential to be a high-value tourism segment, supporting Ireland’s hospitality, tourism, food and drinks industries on an all-island basis.
“The development of a new Food and Drink Tourism Strategy would support the Government’s ambition to promote sustainable tourism in line with our Irish Whiskey Sustainability Roadmap published earlier this year,” concluded William Lavelle, “It would also support the Government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy which commits to ‘developing linkages between local food and tourism offerings, including support for business development and marketing initiatives to support and promote food and drink visitor attractions including the distillery, brewery and tourism sector’.”